Fighting climate change at the local level means taking serious steps to reduce carbon emissions generated by buildings.

Understanding this, leading-edge cities are shifting to mandatory policies. The most powerful of these is a building performance standard (BPS).


What is a Building Performance Standard?

A BPS policy can include multiple standards, each targeted to increase performance for a different aspect of a building. These can include energy, gas, and water use, as well as emissions and peak energy demand. These targets become stricter over time, driving continuous, long-term improvement in the building stock. BPS complements building energy codes; the two strategies work in tandem to improve building performance. A BPS applies to a broad swath of buildings even when they are not pulling permits. From a building owner perspective, BPS provides flexibility, as owners can use whatever technologies and operational strategies they decide are most effective and economical to meet the target.

Updated BPS map

Resources on Building Performance Standards

IMT is the leading organization working with policymakers and local stakeholders across the country in developing robust building performance standards that address not just energy use but other community priorities as well. From this in-the-field experience, we have an ever-growing suite of model documents containing best practice recommendations.

Summary of IMT’s Model Ordinance for a Building Performance Standard and Summary Presentation of IMT’s Model Building Performance Standard Ordinance
These documents provide a high-level overview of the Institute for Market Transformation’s (IMT) model ordinance for a building performance standard (BPS).

Model Ordinance for Building Performance Standards

IMT’s model ordinance is intended to provide the structural foundation for a robust, equitable BPS ordinance in any jurisdiction.

Memo: Updates to IMT’s Model Ordinance for a Building Performance Standard

This document summarizes any updates made to the model ordinance since its initial publication in January 2021.

Building Performance Standard module: Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality
BPS should be multi-dimensional to recognize the intersections between health, affordable housing, community resilience, and building energy use and carbon emissions. This module is the first in a series of briefs looking at how to design more comprehensive BPS, and specifically looks at interventions to improve ventilation and indoor air quality.

Looking for More Info?

As a leader in building performance policy, IMT is on the ground helping cities explore, develop, and execute these policies. At the same time, we are helping building owners and tenants participating in policy development while also identifying and overcoming barriers to improving their buildings ahead of compliance deadlines. A growing set of resources are compiled below and updated on a regular basis. In addition, IMT is available to answer individual questions. Contact us at imtweb[at]

Need more info? Get in touch!

Senior Director, Policy & Regulatory Strategy